Feb. 19, 2016

What Are The Basics Of Estate Planning?

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Today we are excited to be joined by local attorney and estate planning specialist, Michael E. Graham. He is here to give us an overview in estate planning and how it relates to real estate up here in the mountains.

The first step in estate planning is gathering all the information necessary to assess what the estate planning client’s needs are. Michael likes to send out a questionnaire that asks potential clients all the necessary questions about their family and life so that everything can be put in order. After he gets all this information, he has full lists of assets and liabilities to determine what the nature and extent of the client’s estate is.

After he has that information, Michael works as a filter, using the information to determine what the client would want in an estate plan. As a basic rule of thumb, he likes to start his clients off with a core plan of a basic will and trust. Trusts can be amended or changed at any time while the older is living, and the will acts in conjunction with the trust. If you have assets that are not in the name of the trust at the time of death, the will works to put in those assets.

"Trusts Are Very Beneficial"

Another document he likes to have his clients fill out is a durable power of attorney. This is a document where you essentially authorize an agent to act on your behalf in financial matters. The benefit of this is that if the principal becomes incapacitated, the agent can take action on their behalf. Usually, the “agent” is a close family member, like a spouse, sibling, or child. Attorneys like Michael can serve as the agent for a client under power of attorney only if there is a certificate of independent review from another attorney.

Trusts re very beneficialFinally, the last important document we will talk about today is the advanced healthcare directive. This has a lot of important information on it for you to fill out in case of a health emergency, and there are a lot of decisions to be made. What organs you are willing to donate, how you want your body disposed of when you die, and what you want done in a medical emergency. This isn’t something that only needs an oral contract, you have to have this in writing. A copy of this document can usually be obtained through your local health care provider for free.

Trusts are very beneficial, allowing you to avoid probate, while still taking advantage of property tax laws, like the parent-child exclusion. If you have any questions for us about estate planning or real estate in general, give us a call or send us an email. We can’t wait to hear from you!

 

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